As difficult as we make it sound, self-improvement can be a straightforward thing. It’s relatively easy to become more fit (diet and exercise) or even to become smarter (read more and attend classes on a topic). But how do you possibly approach making yourself a better person?
For his thesis project, Michaël Harboun, now a designer at Ideo, tackled that question through a concept called Transcendenz.
His vision was for an augmented reality interface that wouldn’t just tell you where the nearest burrito joint could be found in the city, but to help you discover something inside of yourself.
Harboun writes us.
“Regular AR applications add a layer of objective data, informing us about our surroundings. They give us an instant answer, so that we immediately know what we see. Transcendenz doesn’t give answers, it asks questions. It believes in the user’s ability to put the world around him into question, and to not content himself eating instant available data.”
The application builds empathy through a mature gamification. It tracks, not just your eyes, but your emotions and actions in the real world. As the user takes actions that are empathetic, they level up. But they’re also constantly challenged by the application to broaden their worldview.
Watch the embedded clip from 6:45 in, and you’ll see Transcendenz alter the worldview of someone who puts out their cigarettes on a tree. Writes Harboun.
“By transforming the perception of the user, Transcendenz points out to an invisible philosophy, hidden behind the everyday world. The application encourages us to leverage our consciousness of things and to transcend what we see.”
And in doing so, Transcendenz functions differently from most technology we use in our lives. Rather than ignoring one’s spouse to play Angry Birds, Harboun’s app forces the user out of technology, to be “fully immersed into the present moment.”
“My hope for AR glasses is that it will make people look away from their screens. My fear is that it will make us see what’s overlaid, and not the underlaid anymore.”
COMMENTARY: Thankfully, an AR application and pair of bio-sensory glasses that doesn't try to sell you something or violate your privacy or someone else's. I love how Transcendenz puts you kinetically, emotionally and physically in better "touch" with the physical world in which you live. It uses input from your mental or kinetic energy to help you balance your emotions, by explaining what you are thinking and how you are reacting to a certain stimuli. I would love to wear a pair of those cool AR Transcendenz glasses to a party or social gathering to see if what I am feeling emotionally and psychologically actually registers that way using Transcendenz. This is truly a great way to improve your social skills and keep yourself in a meditative state of mind. Quite a concept. I wonder much Transcendenz will cost when it hits the stores.
Courtesy of an article dated February 28, 2012 appearing in Fast Company Design